Despite its name, the Archdiocese of Chicago’s Immigration Ministry isn’t solely focused on immigration. It’s main priority is serving the immigrants themselves with the aid, support, and resources they need to respond to their baptismal call of leading others in the church. Through its flagship program, Pastoral Migratoria, the office focuses on three main pillars of engagement:

  • Service: Information tables, workshops, and resources
  • Accompaniment: Support for families separated by detention/deportation or isolation
  • Justice: Policy-related actions like labor rights, immigration reform, etc.

Launched in 2008, Pastoral Migratoria closely follows the principles set forth in “Aparecida,” a document whose main author was Cardinal Bergoglio (now Pope Francis). In continuity with the document, Pastoral Migratoria’s main goal is to form leaders in immigrant parishes (particularly in the Hispanic community, though they serve communities as well) and help them respond to their baptismal call to share their talents and time.

“Our work is not just about immigration. It’s about the immigrants,” says Elena Segura, senior coordinator for Immigration Ministry. “There are a lot of immigrants in the US, and the Latino community has grown exponentially. We are called to respond to the needs of these communities.”

OSV Institute has been a supporter of the Immigration Ministry since before the Pastoral Migratoria program began, when the office was primarily focused on advocacy and immigration reform. The office first conducts a survey of new parishes they work with to assess the needs of the community across a number of areas, including health issues, immigration, education, financial support, etc. Using grant funds from OSV Institute, the Immigration Ministry is able to respond appropriately by providing a number of resources, including everything from financial assistance and donations to workshops, social services, counseling, or legal action to help shape immigrants and their families into future leaders.

OSV Institute has been very instrumental since our inception. They believe in our work of evangelization and have given us the funding to minister to immigrants at a local and now national level.

The Immigration Ministry’s grant from OSV Institute has allowed them to make a tremendous impact through Pastoral Migratoria, with results since their inception including:

  • 800 workshops on key help topics (i.e. immigration issues, finance, health, parenting, anti-violence, substance abuse, etc.)
  • 3 million materials distributed on pertinent immigrant topics
  • 6,000 Mexican documentations secured
  • 2,000 informational tables and resources at local parishes and offices
  • 60 elected officials visited to influence legislative reform (for DACA, DREAM Act, etc.)
  • 1,000 families supported directly with basic supplies

Among these results, the Immigration Ministry also provides refugee support and supplies for people in detention or active deportation.

With help from OSV Institute, Chicago’s Immigration Ministry is working on duplicating the Pastoral Migratoria model nationally in large cities with high immigrant populations, including those in New York and California.

“Immigrants are the leaders. They are the ones who are being prepared to connect with others to put their faith in action and serve large communities,” says Segura.